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Milestones in global polio eradication



  • Europe certified polio-free on 21 June.
  • Globally, only ten countries are polio-endemic at the beginning of 2002.
  • A funding gap of US$ 275 million threatens the global polio eradication goal.
  • Rotary launches the Polio Eradication Fundraising Campaign with the goal of raising US $80 million through 2003.


  • Globally, twenty countries are polio-endemic at the beginning of 2001.
  • Just 480 wild poliovirus cases are reported worldwide in 2001.


  • 2979 wild poliovirus cases are reported worldwide - a 99% decrease from 1988.
  • The WHO Western Pacific Region is certified polio-free on 29 October.
  • Seventeen west and central African countries vaccinate 76 million children during unprecedented 'synchronized' national immunization days (NIDs).
  • Over 240 000 childhood deaths are averted through administration of Vitamin A during polio immunization days in over 50 countries.
  • A poliovirus importation from Angola to the island nation of Cape Verde, polio-free for over a decade, resulted in 56 cases of paralysis, including 17 deaths.


  • The World Health Assembly unanimously endorses WHA resolution 52.22 to accelerate the activities of the Global Polio Eradication Initiative.
  • A large polio outbreak strikes Angola, paralysing more than 1000 children and causing over 50 deaths.
  • The first national immunization days in DR Congo and Sierra Leone - two conflict-affected and polio-endemic countries - are undertaken.


  • 134 million children are immunized against polio on a single day in India.
  • National immunization days are conducted for the first time in Somalia and southern Sudan.


  • Mum Chanty, a 15 month old girl paralysed by polio, is found on 19 March in Cambodia - the last case of indigenous polio in the Western Pacific Region.
  • A polio outbreak in India among a religious minority paralyses 800 children.


  • The WHO Region of the Americas is the first Region to be certified polio-free, on 29 September.


  • The last case of polio in the Americas is detected in Junín, Peru in August - paralysing a young boy, Luis Fermín Tenorio Cortez.


  • At the World Summit for Children, WHO, Rotary International, CDC, UNICEF, partner organizations and many Heads of State reaffirm their commitment to the eradication of polio.
  • A huge outbreak in China during 1989 and 1990 causes over 10 000 polio cases.


  • The World Health Assembly resolves to eradicate polio by the year 2000.
  • An estimated 350 000 polio cases occur worldwide, in over 125 countries.
  • Rotary International announces that its fundraising campaign has exceeded expectations, raising US$ 247 million for polio eradication, which today has grown to US $462 million.


  • Rotary International launches a campaign to raise US$ 120 million to fight polio, providing the impetus to begin the polio eradication initiative.


  • Seeing the success of the first national immunization days (NIDs) against polio to supplement routine immunizations in Latin America, the Pan American Health Organization resolves to eradicate polio from the Americas.
  • A three-day cease-fire held during El Salvador's civil war represents the first 'Days of Tranquillity' for polio immunization.
  • Rotary International launches a global health campaign to aid international agencies in immunizing children in developing countries. PolioPlus is the first and largest internationally coordinated private-sector support of a public health initiative.


  • The World Health Assembly officially certifies the world free of smallpox - the first disease ever eradicated.
  • An estimated 500 000 children are paralysed by polio every year.


  • Immunization campaigns in Cuba and in Eastern Europe demonstrate that wild poliovirus can be eliminated in large geographic areas using the oral polio vaccine (OPV). OPV rapidly becomes the vaccine of choice for most national immunization programmes.


  • Dr Albert Sabin introduces the oral polio vaccine (OPV), easier to administer and less costly than Salk's inactivated polio vaccine (IPV).


  • Salk's polio vaccine is approved for general use in the US.


  • The first vaccine against polio, the inactivated polio vaccine (IPV) developed by Dr Jonas Salk, succeeds in mass field trials in the USA.